Leaving Things Behind — a Golden Shovel Poem [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

So, this month, our Poetry Princess challenge was to write a golden shovel poem. Tricia chose this prompt, and she also chose Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty” as the poem we would all choose our lines from. 

This time around, I shared my writing process as I created the poem, so you can see my various drafts in these posts, if you’re interested: Day 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

I eventually settled on “Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;” as my line, and here’s my final poem, inspired by the Magnus Wennman photo of Lamar, a young refugee sleeping in the woods at the Hungarian border.

Leaving Things Behind - Golden Shovel Poem

Make sure to check out the other Poetry Princesses’ poems. I can’t wait to see what they did!

Liz   (and don’t miss Liz’s recent interview on the All the Wonders podcast!)

Sara  (has travel fun going on this month)

And sending love to Andi, who is going through a mom’s most devastating loss–the death of her son. Please keep her family in your thoughts.

Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 

For more poetry, check out the Poetry Friday Roundup with Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog!

















25 Responses

  1. This is wonderful, Laura, and I’ve so enjoyed following you through the process. Those final two lines really pack a punch!

    1. Thank you, Molly! Nice to hear that, as it’s a pain trying to share process…trying to get better at that, though!

  2. I’ve said this before, but I have so enjoyed following along as you describe your process. This poem is so emotionally charged and so very different in spirit than the one those last words came from. This is really an amazing twist on those lines. Well done.

    1. Aw, thanks, Tricia! I’m glad you picked this challenge. I would have been much longer in coming around to trying it…

    1. Thank you, Andi. I thought of Jacob and a couple of my own loved ones and how many people need and deserve our support in so many different ways. And the outcome sometimes comes down, so unfairly, to luck, or timing, or geography. We must do so much more.

  3. Good grief. Not just a golden shovel, but one using GM Hopkins and Pied Beauty. What a beast. And yet, the possibility of borrowed wings with which to fly free. Gorgeous, but heartbreaking.

  4. It’s hard to understand how the world can allow those children to sleep in the woods, hungry and afraid of beast. You’ve shown us a side we see, but seem also not to see. Beautifully done, Laura.

    1. Thank you, Linda. It hurts to see, because with seeing comes responsibility. So much easier to turn away and pretend to not know.

  5. – and we fly on borrowed wings.
    May we all be able so share those wings, if we have them.
    I can’t believe you wrestled this into something so meaningful. I could do NOTHING with that line…

    Now I want to try again.
    (Poetry: an infectious disease)

    1. Love that definition of poetry. Thanks, Tanita. Off to see what everyone else has done!

  6. It’s been so interesting to watch your poem grow–and wow, the final poem is so powerful. Love that you’ve not only taken the challenge of a golden shovel, but brought this haunting photograph to life. You and your fellow princesses (well, and Nikki Grimes) have in me to try a golden shovel this summer!

    1. Thanks, Buffy! I have Nikki’s book on reserve and can’t wait to read it. This is a tough form! Thanks again for your lovely post:>)

    1. Thanks, Jane. The images in this exhibit have haunted me for months and months.

  7. Beautiful and heartbreaking. It reminds me of one of my favorite poetry lines (from Charles Bukowski) that I shared on another post: Poetry can frame agony and hang it on the wall. Your poem frames the agony experienced by refugees, especially the children, for us all to see.

  8. Beautiful and emotive. I want to help this girl we’ve just met in this poem. Lovely. And, thanks for the process pieces. It’s always fascinating to me to see how another pulls a poem together.

  9. Having followed your process, this poem has so much meaning and clarity from beginning to end. The emotion tied up in your words reflect those of the desperate child in the picture. Thanks for sharing and being the empathetic person that you are.

  10. Laura, I read through this post and then backtracked. I am in amazement how you moved through this process, trying out different words and lines until you found a flow that works so beautifully. The poem is hauntingly real to me as I have heard stories of flight from various countries from friends and students. While the reality of what you describe is is far-removed from my daily life, you brought it right to me. Well done!

  11. The challenge of breaking down writing process is not an easy one! I wonder if you learn as much from the exercise as we do? I honestly don’t know that I could do it—it seems like one big mess of firing synapses. But your final poem is truly outstanding, Laura.

  12. Oh, that is spectacular, and spectacularly heart-rending. Are you working on a collection of political/refugee poems? Because I think you ought to be.

  13. That is the perfect photo to pair with the poem. GMH praises dappled things, and yet…this girl…this woods…these terrors… You have made us re-see everything. Just gorgeous.

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